Every time I hear the news that someone has taken their own life, I feel a deep sense of loss. Whether I knew the person or not, a heaviness in my heart overcomes me and I find myself both devastated and grateful. Before you write me off as the most heartless person alive, let me explain. I remember the first time I was ever exposed to suicide, and to the fact that people do take their own lives. I was 13. I remember walking to the store, but it was on my way home from the store that my life forever changed. I watched a police van drive down my childhood best friend’s street, and immediately felt a pain that I had never felt before. I knew in my head and in my heart that something was wrong. No more than ten minutes later did I receive a phone call, her dad had killed himself. I had heard the word suicide before, but now the words rang loudly in my mind. How could someone I have known my entire life commit suicide? What would possess someone to do this? No matter how hard I tried, I could not understand.
Fast forward 6 years. I’m sitting at my desk, the cursor on my computer flashing, unable to press Search. The words I entered,“How to commit suicide?” are staring back at me. How had I gotten to this point? I was more than familiar with the grief caused when a person takes their own life. How could I do this to my loved ones? How could I leave my parents to pick up the broken pieces? The truth is I my depression was so dark that the thought of death was the only thing on my mind. It seemed like an easy, appealing escape from the life I was so unhappy living.
I never pressed Search. I took a 9 hour bus ride home to my parent’s place. My mom held my hand as we walked into the doctor’s office. She cried with me when I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. She gave me hope that things would get better. My mom doesn’t know this, but she saved my life. For those that didn’t have a place to call home, a professional to speak to, or a loved one they could speak to openly, my heart grieves for you. For those of you that did press Search, following through with the only option you knew, I wish that I had met you before you made that forever choice. For those of you that are sitting somewhere contemplating suicide, I promise you with everything in me that it gets better. I am living proof of this. You can be too.
When I hear that another life was lost to depression, I carry this loss with me. However, in a sense I become grateful. Of course I am not grateful for the loss of a precious life. I am grateful for the conversations that occur afterwards. People begin to speak openly about mental health. They begin to speak openly about their own bouts of depression. Resources that those suffering never knew existed are discussed. With these discussions comes information, insight, and most of all awareness. We are reminded that mental health is just as critical as physical health, if not more, and we are exposed to the social stigma that surrounds those that struggle with a mental illness. People like myself begin to feel okay with sharing their own stories of depression, reminding those suffering that it gets better. And the hope is that, with all of this discussion, those struggling with a mental illness speak up and seek the help that they need.
I am devastated by the people that believe the only way things can get better, is in death. But I am grateful for the discussions that are sparked in a time of tragedy. I will continue to speak openly of my depression, in hope that others do too. We cannot fix what we don’t know is broken. And for those of you that feel broken in this present moment, if you take one thing from this, please let it be this: It can get better. It will get better. I am living proof of this.